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Careers advice from Theodora Griff

Can I stretch the truth?

I have not always made the right decisions in life. I started a job in January at an international school where I hated every minute. At the end of term they thought I was going back to see my family for Easter, but actually I packed everything up and came home for good. Can I put on application forms that I have spent the past three months travelling?

Of course you can. You can put anything you like on an application form - you can even put that you were writing articles for TESpro under the pseudonym of Theodora Griff. The problem will come at the end of the form when you sign it, thereby signalling that it is truthful, accurate and honest, or when you actually send it off, thereby signalling the same to a prospective employer.

Falsifying an application form for a job, giving information that you know to be untrue or misleading (even just leaving off something such as a short period in one job), is a pretty serious thing to do. Fraud by false representation comes under the Fraud Act 2006. What this means in practice is that if you gain a pecuniary advantage - in this case, your salary - by untrue or misleading statements, you can risk criminal proceedings, as well as being dismissed without notice.

It may have been a bad decision to go abroad, but an even worse one was just to walk out of the job. You are now in a very tricky position, as schools require a reference from your current or most recent employer in a post involving contact with children or young people - which in your case is the English School of Timbuktu or wherever it was.

My advice is to get some supply work if possible, so that you can build up your reputation and get new references. You will have to say that you were in that school abroad, but it is to be hoped that the supply agency will be happy to take references from schools in the UK as having greater credibility.

And next time think before you jump. Both jumping in and jumping out.

Meet Theodora Griff online on the TES Jobseekers forum or in person at a TES Careers Advice Service seminar or individual consultation. bit.lyuWhqN2.

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